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) -- There's a single session left in both September and the third quarter, and it's good riddance as far as investors are concerned.

On June 30, the end of the second quarter (and QE2 as well), the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was sitting pretty at 12,414, so we've come down a little more than 10% in the past three months, going negative for the year (down 3.7%) in the process. The historical track record for the fourth quarter though is pretty strong, as

Birinyi Associates

points out, with the

S&P 500

positive 76% of the time since 1962, clocking an average gain of 3.5%.

Birinyi also notes the market has historically risen 80% of the time in the quarter following a quarterly decline of 10% or more with the average gain at 5.5%. The sectors that have outperformed the most in the past in the fourth quarter are health care, up an average of 4.9% and rising almost 82% of the time; staples, up 4.3%, rising 75.5% of the time; and tech, up 4.2%, rising 65.3% of the time. Some cause for optimism after a brutal summer.

Corporate news flow should be light on Friday, and there aren't any quarterly reports of note expected. Expect the commentary ahead of third-quarter earnings season to ramp up next week with


(AA) - Get Free Report

, always the first Dow component to open its books each quarter, slated to report after the closing bell on Oct. 11, less than two weeks away.

On Thursday Deutsche Bank offered more hope for gains in the broad market in the fourth quarter, saying a short-covering rally could be in the works ahead of the avalanche of quarterly reports. The firm noted that, in the past six quarters, the

S&P 500

has risen an average of 3% in the five-week period stretching from two weeks before Alcoa's report to three weeks after.

"The last time the

S&P 500 multiple was this low (12x) in 2008-09, EPS was falling 25% yoy; investor expectations for earnings thus look low," the firm says. "The bottom-up consensus has also cut estimates across all sectors. Short positions meanwhile are near their 2008 peak. Solid earnings and an affirmation of guidance could fuel short covering while weak reports and guidance cuts would reinforce negative sentiment."

The latest data from

Thomson Reuters

shows Wall Street is expecting a pretty good showing for corporate profits in the third quarter. Analysts are currently estimating year-over-year earnings growth of 13.5% for the components of the S&P 500 in the period, led by expectations for 34% growth from the materials sector and nearly 49% growth from energy.

That overall view, though, is down from estimated growth of 17% for the period on July 1, reflecting analysts pulling back expectations as the economic data worsened over the summer.

Thursday's late report from

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Free Report

won't help the cause though as the chip maker posted a surprise loss and saw its shares slide in

after-hours action


Meanwhile, Friday's economic data includes personal incomes and spending for August crossing the wires at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index for September at 9:45 a.m., and the final University of Michigan consumer sentiment reading for September at 9:55 a.m.

In July, spending rose 0.8%, outpacing a 0.3% increase in incomes but

sees both numbers going negative in August, estimating declines of 0.2% and 0.3% respectively, although the consensus view is holding out for slight gains of 0.2% and 0.1%.

Chicago PMI was a bummer last time around, falling to 56.5 in August, the lowest level since November 2009. The consensus view is for a third straight sequential decline to 54.0, while

is at 53.0. The dividing line between contraction and expansion is 50.

No surprises are expected with the consumer sentiment data as folks understandably don't feel so great about the economy. The consensus is for a tick lower to 57.5 from the preliminary reading of 57.8, which was the lowest level in more than 30 years.

And finally, China-based companies with U.S. listings should see more volatility on Friday as the market continues to digest the risks presented by growing indications that U.S. authorities are digging deep in their investigations of their accounting practices.


reported Thursday afternoon

that the Justice Department is "actively" looking into the issue, which is also on the radar of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The ensuing selloff weighed on names like


, falling 18%;

Sina Corp.

(SINA) - Get Free Report

, down 9.7%;

Focus Media Holding


, losing 18%;

New Oriental Education & Technology

(EDU) - Get Free Report

, off 12%;

Spreadtrum Communications


, sinking 11%; and


(BIDU) - Get Free Report

, tumbling 9%.


Written by Michael Baron in New York.


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